A Definition of Blended Learning

The term blended learning has many definitions and can encompass many forms of course delivery. In the fall of 2013 the Blended Learning Leadership Team (BLLT), a group of faculty who teach using a blended approach, met to define what blended learning means on the NAU campus. The BLLT also identified core principles that are found in well-designed blended courses. In addition, the team explicated the role of students and faculty in blended courses.

NAU defines blended learning as an approach that combines the best elements of face-to-face teaching with a variety of technologies, resulting in increased learning effectiveness and improved efficiency. Ideally, a blended course at NAU replaces 50% of the conventional class time with out-of-class activities. However, a course that replaces as little as 20% of the seat time with out-of-class activities can still be considered blended.

Examples of effectiveness include

  • Greater student engagement
  • Increased student learning

Examples of efficiency include

  • Reallocation of faculty time toward high-value activities such as research or intensive interaction with students
  • Differentiated instructional roles, which allow collaborative faculty members to contribute their greatest strengths to courses
  • Reduced Carnegie seat time
  • Coordination across multisection courses to eliminate duplication of effort

This definition of blended learning is a cornerstone of the two programs available for faculty to get funding for converting their courses to blended learning.

Roles of faculty and students in blended learning

In successful blended courses, faculty are expected to

  • Apply academic rigor
  • Intentionally design learning activities and assessments that are well aligned with the intended learning outcomes
  • Create opportunities for students to have meaningful interactions with content, with other students, and with faculty

Students are expected to

  • Take responsibility for their own learning
  • Demonstrate appropriate motivation
  • Participate in active inquiry

Characteristics of successful blended courses

A blended course is deemed a success when it leads to these results:

  • Students achieve the intended learning outcomes
  • Students are actively engaged in the learning process
  • Classroom interactions are dynamic rather than passive
  • Face-to-face instruction is carefully integrated with appropriately used technology
  • Efficiency is achieved

Questions about blended learning at NAU?

Direct your questions to Denise Helm, Special Assistant to the Provost, Denise.Helm@nau.edu, 928-523-6360.